Thursday, December 30, 2010

CDC: Property Worth Millions Unaccounted For - AGAIN. Different Decade Though
CDC: Property Worth Millions Unaccounted For
Written by Raven Clabough
Thursday, 30 December 2010 14:30

If one needs further proof of the ineptness of government agencies, one need look no further than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reportedly lost millions of dollars worth of property in 2007. The CDC, while it does not dispute the claim, asserts that it has since located 99 percent of the lost property.

House Republicans Joe Barton of Texas and Greg Walden of Oregon requested that the Inspector General audit the CDC for its inventories after accusations arose that $22 million of its property had been lost or stolen. The audit of the $350 million in equipment belonging to the Centers was carried out in 2007.
Fox News reports, T
he report was released this week by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of the CDC. In 2007, the auditors checked on 200 randomly sampled items and found 15 were lost or not inventoried.

The Associated Press adds, The [government audit] says among the more th
an $8 million in property unaccounted for were a $1.8 million hard disk drive and a $978,000 video conferencing system.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden indicates that the CDC does not contest the report’s conclusions and claims to have implemented a better management system that has helped to account for all of CDC’s property this year. Frieden adds that 99 percent of the lost property was accounted for in 2009. Fox News adds,
The agency still hasn’t explained what happened to the 15 pieces of missing equipment from 2007, auditors said. But a CDC spokeswoman on Wednesday said all but four of the items — including the two most expensive ones — have since been accounted for.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faced similar issues in 1995. After being audited, the agency discovered that it could not account for over $5 million in property.

According to Fox News, while the CDC "gets high marks for how well it does at its core mission of promoting health and investigating outbreaks of illness," it lacks "incentive" to maintain inventory on its property.

Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste responded to the report’s conclusions:
It’s just a good thing they haven’t lost any diseases. There are a lot of agencies that do their job well, but they don’t manage the ‘little things’ very well. The Defense Department is notorious for losing all kinds of equipment, but they do a pretty good job defending the country.

The CDC was also under scrutiny in 1999 after Congress discovered that $23 million approved for research on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was spent on other things, and that the CDC attempted to falsify information about the spending. CDC researcher William Reeves reportedly revealed the misappropriation of the funds, prompting an audit by the Inspector General.

The 1999 report found that "CDC’s various centers, divisions and branches are able to arbitrarily charge indirect costs to some or all of their programs, with no assurance that those charges will be reasonable and consistent."

The most recent audit is unique to the Centers for Disease Control, as it is the only Health and Human Services agency to undergo such an investigation. Other HHS agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, have not been subject to such audits.
Photo: CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden

Audit Shows CDC Misled Congress About Funds For CFS Research

Audit Shows CDC Misled Congress About Funds By Valerie Strauss
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta spent much of the $23 million approved by Congress for research on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in recent years on other things and gave false information to Congress about the program, according to a new audit.

The episode has angered some lawmakers, especially Rep. John Edward Porter (R-Ill.), and prompted efforts within the CDC to establish new accounting controls to fix deficiencies identified by auditors. But questions are being raised by Porter and others about whether those efforts by the government's premier health agency are enough.

"I'm concerned about lying to Congress, lying to people who make the policies of the country," said Porter, who added that he is still discussing with new CDC Director Jeffrey P. Koplan steps he wants taken to rectify the problem. "We have not agreed and the matter remains open."

In response to the inspector general, June Gibbs Brown, Koplan wrote on April 21 that "the funds that were not expended for CFS were spent in extremely important disease areas, such as measles, poliomyelitis and human papillomavirus.

"While CDC is not legally prohibited from spending funds budgeted for CFS on other programs, we acknowledge the importance of complying with the intent of Congress and providing information to Congress," Koplan wrote.

The May audit, conducted by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, was undertaken after revelations were made last year by a CDC researcher, William Reeves. CDC is part of HHS.

Reeves, who as chief of the viral exanthems and herpesvirus branch of the CDC is directly responsible for the agency's chronic fatigue syndrome research program, reported last summer that millions of dollars Congress had given for research on the syndrome were being used to support research in other, unrelated diseases.

Congress allocated about $23 million from 1995 to 1998 for research into the syndrome, a debilitating disease characterized by profound fatigue and lack of stamina. Though the director of the CDC is allowed to transfer money from one research program to another, lower-level employees are not allowed to do so.
In his report to Congress, Reeves said that Brian Mahy, the CDC's division director and his immediate supervisor, had moved funds out of chronic fatigue syndrome research. Reeves said Mahy asked him to verify that $1.2 million in question had been used for chronic fatigue syndrome laboratory work--even though it was not true.

Reeves also reported that the former acting director of the CDC, Claire Broome, had told a congressional panel headed by Porter that the CDC had allocated $5.8 million for chronic fatigue syndrome for 1998 and that $3.4 million would directly support research in Reeves's branch. But, he said, his entire 1998 branch allocation from Mahy was $2.5 million. Reeves said he did not believe Broome knew she was given inaccurate information at the time.

Koplan and Mahy declined to be interviewed.

CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said: "CDC requested the audit from HHS when these [Reeves's] points were made apparent to them. And we believe the audit served its intended purpose. It did give us a sense of the scope of the problem and gave us corrective actions." She said she could not discuss whether disciplinary action was being taken against any CDC employee over the audit's findings.
The audit concluded that during fiscal years 1995 through 1998, of nearly $23 million, $9.8 million, or 43 percent, was incurred for chronic fatigue syndrome purposes.

Auditors said "we could not accept" $8.8 million, or 39 percent, because it was spent for activities unrelated to CFS. They could not "determine the applicability" of another $4.1 million, or 18 percent, of indirect costs because there was not sufficient documentation.

"We determined that CDC does not have adequate controls to ensure that direct costs charged at the program level are based upon the actual efforts of the involved personnel and the actual use of other resources," the audit said. "Lacking such controls, the Division Director [Mahy], who generally justified the transfer of CFS costs to ensure that other division programs were sufficiently funded, was able to transfer unrelated costs to the CFS program without appropriate analysis, documentation or justification."
The auditors also found that "CDC's various centers, divisions and branches are able to arbitrarily charge indirect costs to some or all of their programs, with no assurance that those charges will be reasonable and consistent."

CDC chief Koplan said the CDC would share a spending plan on chronic fatigue syndrome with the CFS Coordinating Committee, Congress and others; implement a training program for staff responsible for budget and accounting; and establish an internal review sought by the auditors.

But Porter, noting that lying to Congress is illegal, and others said that was not enough.
"I won't be relieved until I see what the agency does in terms of both restoring the money that was misspent and making sure the research is back on track because it has been derailed for five years," said Kim Kenney, executive director of the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America. "And I want disciplinary action against the people responsible for such gross mismanagement of funds."

Reeves, too, questioned whether a training program for managers was the answer.

"People doing these jobs are senior executives," he said. "Their entire job is to know the rules. . . . If one is doing this kind of thing on purpose, certainly a training and certification program is not going to fix it."
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 28, 1999; Page A33

Monday, December 6, 2010

Washington Post MCWPA Ad - 6 december 2010

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients Run First-ever Ad in The Washington Post
--Possible New HIV-like Retrovirus in Blood Supply--

CORAL GABLES, Fla., Dec. 6, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented move, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients published a half-page ad in The Washington Post today. The ad brings attention to new, HIV-like retroviruses, including XMRV, which have been linked to CFS and aggressive prostate cancer, and have been detected in healthy blood donors. The ad was created through the ME/CFS Worldwide Patient Alliance (MCWPA), a grassroots patient collaboration formed in August 2010 with the support of P.A.N.D.O.R.A., Inc. From their beds and wheelchairs, patients spent decades watching researchers, scientists and physicians debate about the cause or nature of their illness. Now, they are adding their voice through a campaign that calls for biomedical research funding, fast-track treatment options and improved patient quality of life.  CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS, is a disabling, sometimes fatal NeuroEndocrineImmune disease that afflicts more than one million Americans and an estimated l7 million people worldwide.  

 (Photo: )

ME/CFS first gained national attention amidst the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. As early as 1991, a retroviral link to ME/CFS was discovered by Dr. Elaine DeFreitas of the Wistar Institute, but subsequent retroviral research was halted by the government. Although more than 4,000 peer-reviewed articles in medical journals have pointed to system-wide immune, neurological, endocrine, gastro-intestinal and cardiac abnormalities, a biologically-based diagnostic definition has eluded doctors. The result has been a catastrophic lack of care, ineffective (sometimes harmful) treatments and a shorter life span for those who are ill. The leading causes of death among patients are heart disease, cancer and suicide. The disease occurs in people of all ages, from children to seniors, and also has a higher incidence rate in families and has occurred in cluster outbreaks.

"This can happen to anyone," said Sita G. Harrison, spokeswoman for the MCWPA. "ME/CFS is devastating and the lack of care has hurt us all. We ask the government and health care agencies that we put our trust in to help the millions of people who are suffering and to fund more research now."

A major scientific breakthrough occurred in October 2009 when the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) at the University of Nevada, Reno, working with the National Cancer Institute and Cleveland Clinic, published the results of a landmark study. The seminal study, published in the leading scientific journal, Science, discovered the third human retrovirus, XMRV, in the blood of 67% of ME/CFS patients and in 3.7% of healthy controls. This suggests that up to 10 million US citizens could already be infected. This finding was later confirmed by the FDA, NIH and Harvard Medical School in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their results linked a family of human gamma retroviruses (to which XMRV belongs) to ME/CFS at a rate of 86.5% and 6.8% in the healthy population, bringing the total of Americans who may be infected up to 20 million people. 

"The NIAID, the national institute responsible for infectious disease research, has yet to fund XMRV research in ME/CFS or any other disease," explains Annette Whittemore, President of WPI. "WPI has had its last six XMRV-related grant proposals turned down; despite the fact that our researchers have proven XMRV is transmissible and infectious."

MCWPA is advocating for a budget that is in line with other NeuroEndocrineImmune diseases. Currently, only $5 million for ME/CFS research is in the NIH budget, far less than similar diseases such as multiple sclerosis ($l44 million) and lupus ($121 million).  Patients also ask for antiretroviral and Ampligen clinical trials that have shown great promise in mitigating the effects of ME/CFS.

For more information, to donate, or for more resources and spokespeople, including leading researchers, scientists, physicians, patients, and historians please visit .

About MCWPA: Our mission is to create an effective, cutting-edge advertising campaign addressing the poor quality of life of individuals with ME/CFS. By issuing a collective and unified statement, our community will no longer be silent and invisible. The MCWPA ad campaign is supported by P.A.N.D.O.R.A. Inc.™, Vermont CFIDS Association, Inc., R.E.S.C.I.N.D., Rocky Mountain CFS/ME and FM Association and the Wisconsin ME/CFS Association, Inc.

 Tina Tidmore

PRNewswire-USNewswire   Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients Run First-ever Ad in The Washington Post - December 6, 2010 - Section A-12